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Drink Review: Black Saddle 12 Year Old Bourbon

A bottle of Black Saddle 12 year old bourbon, an award-winning hard to find whiskey from Kentucky. This picked up a double gold medal at the prestigious San Francisco Spirits Competition in 2014.

Black Saddle 12 Year Old Bourbon Review:

Appearance:
A little darker than I expect for bourbon, more like a small barrel whiskey in color.

Nose:
Initially I’m hit with big cinnamon notes and a spiciness that I don’t remember in any bourbon I’ve yet had. There is also a big citrus quality to the nose with lemon and grapefruit peeking through. There is also a creamy vanilla note that bakers get from vanilla extract in their cookies. Once the spices settle down a bit, cherry notes start to peek through, no doubt from the charred oak.

Flavor:
A spicy entry leads us to a big and bold middle. This moves towards a sweet entry with a nice vanilla flavor that is just right to bring the spice. The spice builds a bit and carries well into the finish, where it turns mildly bitter.

Finish:
The burn from that finish is strong but it is not too long of a finish, and it doesn’t linger, it stays pleasant and keeps you interested.

This is an excellent bourbon. It is a bit spicy, but it is well balanced. You can tell that they have spent a lot of time getting this right. I would recommend this for sipping instead of mixing. I think it would make a great Old Fashioned, but with its higher proof, I think it would also make a delicious manhattan. I had it neat in a small glass and it was a great experience.

Black Saddle Bourbon Review:

An exceptional dram 100%. An exceptional whisky that in my opinion is much more than the sum of its parts. Good for your lucky steed (whisky for a glass and a friend). This is one of those rare drams that really should be treated with celebration, for me I found myself subconsciously tapping my feet, in a restrained boogie.

The bottle of bourbon is pretty cool looking. It comes in a unique bottle shaped like a hip flask and has a classy label on it. It appears to have a signature on the bottle from the creator of this bourbon, but when I took a closer look I saw that it doesn’t look like a signature but rather a little drawing. It’s neat.

History:
The whiskey started out as a column distilled whiskey. That means that unlike the other kinds of columns used in the distillery, bourbon doesn’t see a lot of crystal to capture the flavors like the others do. This led me to believe that the distillery had a lot of experience making bourbon and a lot of experience flavour controlling it. I could be wrong, but it makes sense to me.

This column distilled whiskey was then put into what they call their “rake barrel.” This is a small barrel, with two thirds of a space on the top for air and other whiskey vapors to enter.

Then they put this whiskey into full sized barrels, and left it there for 12 years, giving the whiskey so much chance to age. These processes help create some of the best bourbons around.

Then they bottled the bourbon, here in Kentucky no less. This eliminated the need to ship the whiskey across state lines, because there aren’t laws for what kind of whiskey can go across state lines. They can say, “this whiskey was distilled in Kentucky, aged in Kentucky, and bottled in Kentucky.”

There are large books about American whiskey that say that if whiskey is a bit too heavy, the distiller can add a bit of something else to it and this must say in the label. Scotch, for example, can be watered down and re-distilled to have different flavors. We don’t have these laws in America because we want to promote things made in America.

Written by Mark Adams

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